Meet Jason Ryczek, Sous Chef at Waterbar. 

Chef Jason and the first steps to our Octopus Carapaccio

Chef Jason and the first steps to our Octopus Carapaccio

Chef Jason and I have recently combined forces. We wanted to showcase things we explore and are proud of in our kitchen-the things that go on in the, "back of the house". These projects deserve mention; they are exciting, creative and delicious.

We are going to start with our Housemade Buratta. Soft and smooth, this creamy cows milk cheese translates to "buttery" in Italian.  Chef Jason is ordering Strauss cream top milk from Petaluma, which provides a nice golden ivory finished product.

The video above gives you a great example of how to actually form the buratta. Chef Jason will break it down step by step for you and go over the entire process from start to finish. This is an introduction to some of the things we do here at Waterbar..... more Stories to come!

First we start with the milk, and you can see the cream tops floating around.  We then add Calcium Chloride and Citric Acid to begin the process.

We heat this to about 88°F, remove it from the heat, and stir in Veal Rennet (but only two figure eights).  It then rests until the curds come together and can pull from the sides (about fifteen minutes).

Next the curds are cut, the pot is brought back to a low flame, and constantly stirring, heated to 106°F.

Once it reaches this temperature, it's strained and the curds are reserved for the cheese making.  We usually separate it in half so we can use some curds for kneading and stretching to fill, and the others for seasoning and stuffing.

To stretch, we bring a pot of water to 180°, and try to keep it there to warm the curds, knead them, and stretch them into a balloon for the filling curd.

Although the purpose of this project was to test a theory for something down the road, we played with it and ultimately ran out the burrata with a strawberry salad.  As we perfect the stretching/balloon method, we look forward to filling our 'mozzarella balloons' with other fun ingredients.  Next will be a twist on a soup dumpling, where we will fill it with NO2 charged Parmesan Rind Brodo.

The final product, Waterbar's Housemade Burrata   Q:     Where are you from? A:  Los Osos, along the Central Coast of California. Q:      How did you get into restaurants? What was the attraction? A: It started with summer jobs.  Although I started in the front of the house, it was the level of respect I had for the Chefs I'd worked for that ultimately made my decision.  When I decided the restaurant business was the career path I would follow, I knew it would be as a Chef. Q:      How long have you been at Waterbar? A: A little over two years. Q:       What’s been your greatest challenge as a chef? A: Balance.  With life and work.  With staff and management, confidence and humility.  You start to realize that once you live your life as you do at work, the lines blur.  Passion can be an intense motivator, leaving you feeling powerful and powerless from one moment to the next. Q:       What’s your best memory in the kitchen? A: There are so many, but one of my favorites that always stands out was during an opening.  My girlfriend at the time (fiance now), who also works in the service industry, was at the bar and saw a few servers walk by food in the window while I struggled to get my staff out of the weeds.  I heard her yelling at them from the bar to run the food while it was still hot.  It was amazing, and if I wasn't already madly in love, that pretty much sealed the deal.  She was a keeper. Q:     What are you up to lately, what’s on your agenda?  A: I'm constantly looking at ways to keep up with trends in the industry- not to be doing what everyone else is doing, but attempting to get ahead and do something first. Possibly that could inspire others to make moves in a positive direction. I have fun with food creation, as does anyone, but it's the impact restaurants and food production have on the environment that drives me. Knowing what's in season used to be a trend, now it's necessity. Organics is no longer just some kitchy stuck up term. Sustainability is responsibility. Making sure we have an understanding what these terms mean and passing that understanding on; building a better future with what could just as easily be left as a negative footprint. While we work on having fun creating food made from some of the most awesome ingredients in the world, we're consciously trying to do it in a way that highlights them with the utmost respect. Q:     What are your plans for the future?  A: More fun projects of course!  Mostly trying to get involved in as many of our fun Waterbar projects as possible.  We go on so many cool field trips, do parties like High on the Hog, and of course Oysterfest.  This year I'm trying to get my hands in on the beekeeping, and help out with the rebuilding of our rooftop garden.

The final product, Waterbar's Housemade Burrata

 

Q:     Where are you from?

A:  Los Osos, along the Central Coast of California.

Q:      How did you get into restaurants? What was the attraction?

A: It started with summer jobs.  Although I started in the front of the house, it was the level of respect I had for the Chefs I'd worked for that ultimately made my decision.  When I decided the restaurant business was the career path I would follow, I knew it would be as a Chef.

Q:      How long have you been at Waterbar?

A: A little over two years.

Q:       What’s been your greatest challenge as a chef?

A: Balance.  With life and work.  With staff and management, confidence and humility.  You start to realize that once you live your life as you do at work, the lines blur.  Passion can be an intense motivator, leaving you feeling powerful and powerless from one moment to the next.

Q:       What’s your best memory in the kitchen?

A: There are so many, but one of my favorites that always stands out was during an opening.  My girlfriend at the time (fiance now), who also works in the service industry, was at the bar and saw a few servers walk by food in the window while I struggled to get my staff out of the weeds.  I heard her yelling at them from the bar to run the food while it was still hot.  It was amazing, and if I wasn't already madly in love, that pretty much sealed the deal.  She was a keeper.

Q:     What are you up to lately, what’s on your agenda? 

A: I'm constantly looking at ways to keep up with trends in the industry- not to be doing what everyone else is doing, but attempting to get ahead and do something first. Possibly that could inspire others to make moves in a positive direction. I have fun with food creation, as does anyone, but it's the impact restaurants and food production have on the environment that drives me. Knowing what's in season used to be a trend, now it's necessity. Organics is no longer just some kitchy stuck up term. Sustainability is responsibility. Making sure we have an understanding what these terms mean and passing that understanding on; building a better future with what could just as easily be left as a negative footprint. While we work on having fun creating food made from some of the most awesome ingredients in the world, we're consciously trying to do it in a way that highlights them with the utmost respect.

Q:     What are your plans for the future? 

A: More fun projects of course!  Mostly trying to get involved in as many of our fun Waterbar projects as possible.  We go on so many cool field trips, do parties like High on the Hog, and of course Oysterfest.  This year I'm trying to get my hands in on the beekeeping, and help out with the rebuilding of our rooftop garden.

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